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Old 11-21-2017, 09:02 PM
pdw pdw started this thread
 
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Since the 1970s Islamic Revival and the spread of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi Islam throughout the Middle East, there has been increasing division among the Arabs, among whom the idea of achieving an united Arab state had been a huge movement following the fall of the Ottoman Empire. An Arab state would be undoubtedly close to a global superpower rivaling the United States in power. With the Saudi oil industry being so closely tied to the USA, these two countries have had an almost symbiotic relationship. With Wahhabism promoting anti-Shia and anti-Christian beliefs in the Arab world, there has been increasing conflict and violence, which has given the United States precedent to intervene and help topple Arab nationalist regimes like Saddam and Assad. In turn, these regimes have almost always been replaced by Islamist governments with close to Saudi ideology. Do you believe these facts are merely a coincidence, or a deliberate part of American and Saudi geopolitical strategy?
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Old 11-21-2017, 09:39 PM
 
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That's a very interesting question and one that has no easy answer unfortunately. Islam has been around for a good 1400 years at the least and has gone through many phases. The brand known as Wahhabism has been around since the 18th century so it predates the 1970's by a wide margin.

I'm not sure we can really separate Islamist governments from Arab nationalism as the two go hand in hand in many ways. Many so called secular regimes still rigorously use religion in their daily lives. Arabs have used Islam as a tool to spread their religion over the centuries. A classic example involves the conquest of the Maghreb and the subsequent spread into Europe.

Islamism can easily trace its routes there, as one of its objectives is to replace the two Monotheistic religions that preceded it (Christianity and Judaism). They view their holy book as an extension of the Bible (Old and New Testament). The best analogy would be to think of a regular novel that gets published. You start off with the first edition when the book is brand new, then go trough new ones over the years. At one point you get a disclaimer saying Third edition, revised and updated. At that point, the old ones are out of print as the new one has taken over. That is the essence of Islam vis-a-vis the other religions. Christianity is a stepping stone to something greater and so therefore will be phased out.

Following the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British and French took over most of those territories which eventually gave way to Arab nationalism and independence. However, most of those countries were formed from colonial vestiges therefore their self identity is somewhat dubious. This is where Islam comes in and fills in the vacuum, as it is a unifying force and represents the highest form of identity.

The US is mostly using the region as a cheap source of oil and it's geopolitical positions are primarily defined by it. I don't think support of Wahhabism is really the issue here, but more just a concidential allignment of interests. The reverse is also true, as we have the major Shia player in the region (Iran) pushing it's own agenda. Russia's support of Iran also comes from geopolitical interests.

In essence we end up with a region where there is a multilayered conflict. We have the Sunni/Shia divide that is of primary interest to the domestic players (countries in the ME) and the business interests that affect everyone else involved (US, Russia, EU, Turkey, Japan...)
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Old 11-21-2017, 11:58 PM
pdw pdw started this thread
 
Location: Ontario, Canada
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You bring up a good point with the US and their oil interests. This adds yet another bonus if they play a part in regime changes in the region.
I also see your point about Iran being on the opposite side of the Sunni/Shia divide. I think Iran is a good example of where American interference in the ME has gone against their interests. (1950s American overthrowing of government and subsequent Iranian revolution) Do you think, though, that their funding of groups like Hezbollah is more reactionary to the growing conflict rather than a root cause of it?

I disagree though that Wahhabism isn't a cause of this escalation. Saudi Arabia is an economic powerhouse and their funding of Wahhabi education overseas has done more, in my opinion, to change the face of Islam as we know it today than any other factor. Never before has there been such a divide between Arabs. Being a Sunni or a Shiite or a Christian may have mattered in terms of marriage and family heritage before, but I can't think of a time where it has ever been such a huge cause for conflict. At least not in modern times. Now it's seen by a growing minority of people as an issue of "You're not a real Muslim!", "you're not a real Egyptian/Iraqi/Syrian, etc" if you're part of a minority religious group. This has been shattering the unity that Arabs had been building for hundreds of years. Besides giving them more political allies, what's in it for Saudi Arabia by doing this? Wahhabism has also been instrumental in Hajj being seen as an absolute requirement for all Muslims, something that wasn't taken as literally before. This in turn sends millions upon millions of pilgrims to Mecca per year and billions of dollars into the Saudi economy. The way the Saudis have been shamelessly bulldozing major historic sites of Islamic history to build hotels and other tourist amenities in the Holiest City in the world should speak for itself how much they're profiting off of the spread of their religious ideologies.

Last edited by pdw; 11-22-2017 at 12:10 AM..
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Old 11-22-2017, 12:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pdw View Post
I disagree that Wahhabism isn't a cause of this escalation. Saudi Arabia is an economic powerhouse and their funding of Wahhabi education overseas has done more, in my opinion, to change the face of Islam as we know it today than any other factor. Never before has there been such a divide between Arabs. Being a Sunni or a Shiite or a Christian may have mattered in terms of marriage and family heritage before, but I can't think of a time where it has ever been such a huge cause for conflict. At least not in modern times. Now it's seen by a growing minority of people as an issue of "You're not a real Muslim!", "you're not a real Egyptian/Iraqi/Syrian, etc" if you're part of a minority religious group. This has been shattering the unity that Arabs had been building for hundreds of years. Besides giving them more political allies, what's in it for Saudi Arabia by doing this? Wahhabism has also been instrumental in Hajj being seen as an absolute requirement for all Muslims, something that wasn't taken as literally before. This in turn sends millions upon millions of pilgrims to Mecca per year and billions of dollars into the Saudi economy. The way the Saudis have been shamelessly bulldozing major historic sites of Islamic history to build hotels and other tourist amenities in the Holiest City in the world should speak for itself how much they're profiting off of the spread of their religious ideologies.
What I meant was that Wahhabism is not a new ideology that just popped up recently. It's been around for a long time and is not incompatible with Islam. Western support is merely coincidental, in that there is an overlapping interest but that's about it. It is not a religiously motivated support.

Both Saudi and Iran are trying to become religious powerhouses and back opposing factions. Saudi has the advantage in that it holds the most holy sites in their religion, but Iran is home to a number of Shia sites as well.

National identity is secondary in many of those countries as religion plays a much larger role.
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Old 11-22-2017, 12:18 AM
 
Location: Canada
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The world would be a better place if we replaced islam with something else.
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Old 11-22-2017, 12:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by pdw View Post
You bring up a good point with the US and their oil interests. This adds yet another bonus if they play a part in regime changes in the region.
I also see your point about Iran being on the opposite side of the Sunni/Shia divide. I think Iran is a good example of where American interference in the ME has gone against their interests. (1950s American overthrowing of government and subsequent Iranian revolution) Do you think, though, that their funding of groups like Hezbollah is more reactionary to the growing conflict rather than a root cause of it?
Sorry, I didn't see the first paragraph. Did you add it later?

I personally believe that Iran is nearly just as bad as Saudi Arabia. They just happen to oppose each other. Hezbollah is an example of them flexing their power. They are using them to expand the Shia faith in places like Lebanon and Syria and to show a strong front in the struggle against Israel.

The US didn't really overthrow the government in the 50's since the Shah was already the ruler before that time, not to mention the fact that there was a coup in the 40's where the British/Soviets got his father to abdicate in favour of him.
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Old 11-22-2017, 06:20 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
6,112 posts, read 10,150,825 times
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Originally Posted by pdw View Post
Since the 1970s Islamic Revival and the spread of Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi Islam throughout the Middle East, there has been increasing division among the Arabs, among whom the idea of achieving an united Arab state had been a huge movement following the fall of the Ottoman Empire. An Arab state would be undoubtedly close to a global superpower rivaling the United States in power. With the Saudi oil industry being so closely tied to the USA, these two countries have had an almost symbiotic relationship. With Wahhabism promoting anti-Shia and anti-Christian beliefs in the Arab world, there has been increasing conflict and violence, which has given the United States precedent to intervene and help topple Arab nationalist regimes like Saddam and Assad. In turn, these regimes have almost always been replaced by Islamist governments with close to Saudi ideology. Do you believe these facts are merely a coincidence, or a deliberate part of American and Saudi geopolitical strategy?
The lines of conflict are zig-zags and figure-eight circles on a rolling short-term basis, of which ideologies and such are complements, so to really understand it is necessary to know who is making deals with whom on a case-by-case basis over time.

But if you want to waste time magnifying the role of ideologies out of proportion, you are free to do so, and that in itself is a pretty good business, it engages and entertains a lot of people who pay, whether in blood or treasure.

By the way, Assad has not been toppled, but the mess there has certainly been good for the military industry in both the US and Russia (among others). That's why they, and all of them, continue to be rivals, two-faced and three-faced, it's good for business, so why overcook the gooses that lay the golden eggs?

After PLO, Al Qaeda, ISIS and a few others in between here and there, in the next year or two another government-sponsored, but legally rogue group (plausible deniability) will emerge and the cycle will start all over again.

Good Luck!

Last edited by bale002; 11-22-2017 at 07:07 AM..
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